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Biographical entry Morton, Charles Alexander (1860 - 1929)

OBE; MRCS Nov 17th 1881; FRCS Dec 12th 1889.

14 September 1929
Zurich, Switzerland
General surgeon


Born in Bristol, the son of John Morton, Superintending Surgeon - a rank discontinued in 1872 - in the HEIC's service in the Madras Presidency. He was educated at Clifton College and at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he gained numerous prizes, including the Brackenbury Medical Scholarship. He became House Surgeon at the Stanley Hospital, Liverpool, in 1881, and House Physician at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1882. He then held office as House Surgeon at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, was Resident Medical Officer at the Children's Hospital, Pendlebury, Clinical Assistant at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, and Resident Clinical Assistant at the Leicester Infirmary.

Returning to Bristol, he was appointed Registrar to the Bristol General Hospital in 1891, Assistant Surgeon in 1893, and for twenty-seven years he served on the surgical staff of the Hospital, from which he retired as Consulting Surgeon in 1920. He was also Surgeon to the Bristol Children's Hospital and had Surgical Charge of the Cossham Memorial Hospital. With the exception of J Greig Smith (qv) he was the first member of the Bristol School to devote himself wholly to surgery.

Morton's work as a surgical teacher began with his appointment as Professor of Systematic Surgery in University College, Bristol, in 1897, and he held the post until 1925, when he resigned and was made Emeritus Professor in the University of Bristol. He became a Member of the Bristol Board of Guardians after his retirement from hospital work, and strongly advocated the correlation of the work of the Voluntary and Poor Law hospitals. He died unmarried at Zurich whilst on a holiday on Sept 14th, 1929.

Morton was a man of strong individuality with a marked critical faculty which sometimes brought him into collision with his colleagues. As a teacher of students he was so acutely aware of the contradictory nature of many of the statements contained in the current text-books that he advocated a scheme for the production of a standard text-book of surgery for the use of examiners and those whom they examined. As a surgeon he spared no effort in diagnosis, and was so extremely careful in the preparation for and carrying out of operations that he left little for others to do. During the European War his work lay at the Beaufort Territorial Hospital, where he specially interested himself in the treatment of wounds of the nerves and blood-vessels. He received the OBE for his services. He was never physically robust.

"Treatment of Wounds." - Lancet, 1915, ii, 303.
"Unusual Form of Gunshot Arteriovenous Aneurysm." - Ibid, 1916, i, 557.
"Malignant Disease of the Breast with Special Reference to the Supraclavicular Extension of the Operation." - Brit Med Jour, 1923, i, 178.
"Pathology and Treatment of Genu V algum." - Ibid, 1925, i, 346.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1929, ii, 637, with portrait. Brit Med Jour, 1929, ii, 601].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England